Part 2: Using Your Tax Refund on the Homestead & Garden

Part 2: 

Plant Your Garden! 

Now that your garden is primed and ready, it's time to start planting! But, where do you start? The seed aisle lined with rows and rows of seeds at your local garden center can be confusing. Not to mention the live plant section outside with herbs you never even knew existed! So how do you navigate all this plant awesomeness? We will break it down into the following: Perennials vs. Annuals & Seeds vs. Live Plants.

Perennials vs. Annuals: 

Once you figure out the difference between perennials and annuals, you'll be able to plan for the short term and the long term harvest! 

What are Annuals? Annuals are plants that only produce flowers/fruit/veggies for one cycle and then reseed again. The word Annual means yearly, so think about planting/seeding them every year. 

What are perennials? Perennial means to exist for a long time. So, these plants can last for years without you having to replant or reseed them each year. Planting perennials also means more bang for your buck! 

So which one should you choose? Well, if you want a well-rounded garden, you will have to do both. Frankly, if you have just a perennial garden, you will never enjoy homegrown tomatoes or summer squash. If you have just an annual garden, forget about the blueberries and the asparagus! As you can see, you want a little of both worlds. 

Remember in the previous blog post when we discussed where to plant your garden for the most sun? That is mostly for annual plants that flourish in 6-8 hrs of sunlight. There are Spring, Summer, and Fall crops, so don't fear; you are not wasting that space if that crosses your mind! 

You have to be more strategic when planting perennial plants, bushes, and trees. How big will it get? Lifespan? How much sun does it need? What time of year does it fruit or produce? What growing zone does it need? These are all things you need to know before buying & planting a perennial. 

Make a list of the veggies & fruits you love to eat. Now research them! You will find which ones will and will not work for you. Here are some examples of how plants might not work: I live in zone 7B; if I plant a banana tree in my yard, it will grow but never produce bananas because temperatures do not get warm enough. I can plant blueberries and have successful crops. If I have a small backyard, I don't want to grow pumpkins because they create a sprawling vine that will take over my growing space. But I can summer squash that bunches and mounds, taking up less space. 

Now that you have your list of fruit & veggies you can grow, it's time to choose whether you will grow them from seed or plants? 

 

Seeds vs. Live Plants: 

There are pros and cons to both. So let's go through them.

Seeds: 

Yes, seeds are overall cheaper than already half-grown plants or seedlings, but what about the hidden cost you didn't think of? 

If you plan on starting from seed, here is what you will need: seeds, seedling mixture (premixed or compost, peat moss, and garden soil), trays to place soil and seeds in, and more than likely a grow light or a greenhouse type place to hold all those trays. So that one thing just became 4-5 things you'll have to purchase. Yes, there are several seeds you can place straight into the ground, but you will have to wait till it is the right temperature and conditions, which will limit your growing season. So keep this in mind. 

Some plants that do well with direct sowing are sweet peas, beans, carrots, and lettuce. You can also start some seedlings inside your home on a windowsill if you're not ready for a greenhouse. (Remember, this blog series is about using your tax refund wisely, so don't just buy a greenhouse just for the sake of having one.) 

I do not suggest you buy carrots, lettuces, and celery as a live plant. Why? You are pretty much buying the same thing you could find in the produce aisle; it is just still in the dirt. They are easier to grow and more productive if you plant seeds in the soil. With that, let's get to live plants! 

Live plants: 

Some things are a must as a live plant! You will want to get most of your fruit trees and bushes already established at your local nursery. If you attempt to plant them from seed, you will be waiting a while before you seed the fruit of your labor. Ha, I hope you got that! 

After you get some gardening under your belt, you learn which veggies and fruits you had rather buy as plants. I have to say that I purchase most of my fruits as plants because I want to see a harvest sooner. I also bought my rhubarb as already established plants because I wanted to get a crop sooner. Herbs are one of those plant families that I'm a hit or miss when planting from seed. So usually, I'll seed some and buy some as plants just in case. 

If you would like some more plant vs. seed tips, go check out this video: 

 

 

Happy planning - Kara